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29 September, 2011

Italian review of the Wild Swans album

There's a review of the Wild Swans album on the Italian Beatbear site here.

Below is a VERY rough translation into English (my Italian isn't totally fluent so it may be a little free in places and clunky in others...):

"The Wild Swans set off on their journey through the post-punk era in Liverpool in 1980 when Paul Simpson left the Teardrop Explodes (one of the brightest stars in the post-punk firmament). Although they’ve never had a hit in the UK, they’ve become a cult band in various countries over the years and members have left to form bands such as the Lotus Eaters, who produced a kind of dreamy pop which still had links to their origins. The group retained close ties to the Liverpool scene (and its insistence upon rising above pompous London artists) they’ve worked with bands such as Echo & The Bunnymen. Having split up on a number of occasions, Simpson got them playing again in 2009 and this now brings us to The Coldest Winter For a Hundred Years, released by Occultation Recordings and featuring Bunnymen stalwart Will Sergeant.

This is a delicate pearl which is at the same time soft and melancholic, leaning more towards indie folk sounds with electric interludes than the darkness of the post-punk sound, leaving just its decadent attitude. The opening “Falling to Bits” is ravishing, with the gentle arpeggios of the piano accompaniment. The voice is delicate and demands to be heard because “this town is falling to bits, and I don’t like it”. On “Liquid Mercury” an electric sound pushes its way to the fore and the guitars sketch out a folk-rock made up of peaks and troughs; this is a melancholic track which only begins to leave its mark after many listens. “Chloroform”, meanwhile, is a piece of very elegant Brit-pop, the guitars at the beginning give way to Simpson's expressive vocals which are highly reminiscent of Al Stewart - a very beautiful, intense song. The album continues with a series of acoustic and electric ballads; “English Electric Lightning” is particularly striking with its aching nocturnal visions and heart-warming piano. Things only change with a few interludes such as the syncopated “Underwater” which is rockier and weaker than some of the other tracks. Then eventually we come to slow, atmospheric songs such as “Glow in the Dark”, because “there’s not enough time to get what I want in this world”.

All things considered there isn’t a lot of darkness in this comeback, the dominant colours are the pastel shades of melancholy, the sweetness of remembrance and the restraint of the music and vocals, embracing the hints of electric indie folk. We should be grateful to the Wild Swans for this tender magic, offering us an oasis and some respite from the cynicism all around us.

Luigi Zampi

The Wild Swans on Eat Bulaga (again)

There's now a better quality, longer version of the admittedly somewhat surreal Wild Swans appearance on Filipino TV.

28 September, 2011

WILD SWANS LIVE @ eat bulaga

Some footage of the Wild Swans performing "Bringing Home The Ashes" on Filipino TV.

The Wild Swans in the Philippines

The Wild Swans are now in the Philippines preparing for concerts in Cebu and Manila.

15 September, 2011

When Sleep Won't Come

A video by Jim Donnelly in collaboration with Martin Bramah.

14 September, 2011

Wild Swans album review on Popnews French website

There's a fine review of the Wild Swans album on the French Popnews website here. A rough translation follows:

"Could 2010 be The Wild Swans’ year?", we wrote – not without a hint of irony - in the "They’re Back" part of our review of the year in 2009. Back from the limbo in which they’d been floating for years, the Liverpool group had shown signs of being ready to spread their wings again [Translator’s note: there’s a play on words in the French here but it’s untranslatable] a few months earlier in the form of a superb double-sided single, "English Electric Lightning". Though almost obsolete, the format was obviously reminiscent of their main claim to fame, 1982’s "Revolutionary Spirit" which should’ve propelled them into the indie Premier League alongside their fellow-Scousers Echo and the Bunnymen and The Teardrop Explodes. Instead, though, The Wild Swans embarked upon an exemplary non-career, not releasing an album until 1988 and disappearing off the radar a few years later, to near-general indifference. The compilations of their tiny discography include one released by Warner [Translator’s note: this is actually a pirated compilation, not released by the real Warner Bros.] in the Philippines (they were popular over there, strangely enough, and they’re actually going to be playing there soon), so they somehow always seemed very far away.

OK, so we were a year out but that hardly matters with a group that’s been quiet for two decades, especially as The Coldest Winter in a Hundred Years is not of its time in any real sense; far more than a nostalgic record, it’s one which makes nostalgia its main subject matter. The title itself is the same as the ‘b’ side of "English Electric Lightning", a long, magnificent spoken-word track in which Paul Simpson droned out his memories of Liverpool in the early 1980s with a cast including Pete de Freitas of the Bunnymen, Julian Cope of The Teardrop Explodes, Pete Burns, the future Dead or Alive frontman and more. “Chloroform” features the singer’s grandfather and father, who fought in the First and Second World War respectively. As for “My Town”, the title and the chorus of “It’s over now, it’s over now” speak for themselves.

However, rather than wallowing, Simpson (the founder and only original member of the group) seems to be drawing new strength from these resurgences of the past. The parts of the blend which made “Revolutionary Spirit” such an extraordinary song – in spite of a botched mix – are all there, but it’s as though they’ve settled and become clearer, the haughty rush of youth giving way to the serenity of a man with nothing left to prove. The strong – even quite astonishing - melodies (“Liquid Mercury”, “In Secret”, “English Electric Lightning”, “When Time Stood Still”, etc.), the guitars which are proud and triumphant but somehow still manage to instil a sense of melancholy – as Maurice Deebank used to do with Felt - the backing vocals and airy keyboard parts, all prevent any pathos and bloating. Then obviously there’s Paul Simpson‘s voice, which has now been stripped of any new wave mannerisms, the lyricism more contained, but still just as lived-in, and it has never before been heard to such great effect. He believes that The Wild Swans have finally come up with their masterpiece. We’d certainly agree that, together with Peter Astor and The Feelies, they have certainly given us the worthiest comeback of the year.

12 September, 2011

Factory Star and Wild Swans reviews on Freq

If you care to visit the excellent Freq website, you'll find superb reviews of both Factory Star's Enter Castle Perilous and The Wild Swans' The Coldest Winter For A Hundred Years.

The Wild Swans album is also reviewed on the always opinionated (which, as its stated aim is criticism, is a compliment) Collapse Board site, you can read that one here. Although we have to say we don't agree with all the points made in this piece - why on earth should Englishmen not write about England? If we had a go at the Scots, Welsh or Irish (either side of the border) on these grounds we'd be accused of all sorts - the piece is well-argued and written and it's good to be made to think about such things. If I get more time I might delve further into this subject... (but don't hold your collective breath...)

01 September, 2011

Enter Castle Perilous review in The Morning Star

Here's a review of Factory Star's Enter Castle Perilous from The Morning Star.